By Jess Phillips
The US Virgin Islands are very supportive of OTEC power, water, and the spin off economic development opportunities.
Ocean Thermal Energy (OTE) Corporation may be landlocked in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, but that isn’t stopping them from looking to the ocean for 24/7 electricity. Their primary technology is Ocean Thermal Energy Conversion (OTEC), which uses the temperature differentials in the ocean to produce steam. The steam, in turn, activates a turbine, which generates clean energy and potable water.
Sammuel Sanes, the Chairman of the Committee on Energy and Environmental Protection in the Virgin Islands, supports OTEC as a, “proven technology, which is already integrated into Hawaii’s grid.” Although OTEC has been successful in Hawaii since the 1970s, OTE Corporation recently funded a feasibility study in the USVI- proving its profitability in conjunction with providing an environmentally benign source of renewable energy.
Sanes added, “This technology has many features that the Virgin Islands can benefit from including clean, renewable base-load energy contributing to the stability of the grid, protection from fuel price volatility, millions of gallons of portable water per day, cold water for air conditioning and a variety of economic development opportunities.” As of April 2016, Sanes and his Senate colleagues overwhelmingly approved the feasibility study.
OTE Corporation is pushing for a transition away from fossil-burning fuels and is eager to get a plant up and running in the USVI. Sanes notes that the time to transition to fossil-free energy is now, “due to the serious nature of climate change and our need to employ more renewables into our energy mix as a matter of public policy.”
Natural Renewable Energy Laboratory (NEHLA) data shows that OTEC is suitable for 68 countries, 29 territories, and 3 billion people. OTE Corporation has active contracts with The Bahamas, US Virgin Islands, Cayman Islands, US Department of Defense, and Zanzibar for OTEC technology implementation. They are the only company in the world with a major contract to build, own and operate a commercial scale OTEC utility plant.
For more information on OTEC technology, click here.